Why Round?

Round houses are not a common sight today, even though most, if not all, of our ancestors lived in round structures. All around the world, in many different environments and cultures, people build round houses. The Eskimos have the igloo, the Plains Indians have the teepee, the Mongolians have the yurt, and there are several variations of huts on the African continent, all of which are round. Many of these types of buildings are still used today. Using locally available materials, round structures are the simplest and most economical types of housing to build.

In the natural world and throughout the universe, the circle is prevalent, because it is nature's strongest and most efficient shape. Even time, which we see as lineal, is circular, on an annual basis that we can easily experience, or sometimes in a much longer time frame. Life itself is a constant circular process of birth, death, and rebirth.

Today we build and live in boxes—big boxes made up of smaller boxes. This came about mostly as a result of trying to fit more people into a given space. Houses became boxes as it became more and more necessary to fit one home tightly to the next, all the way down the street. When space on the street ran out, many went in an upward direction, resulting in tall apartment buildings—boxes beside boxes and boxes on top of boxes. Homes are divided into many small areas, unlike in the past, when the family unit all lived in the same common space.

However, round houses are regaining popularity for some of the same reasons that round structures have been used throughout history:

  • The round shape is inherently strong and able to withstand high winds and adverse weather better than square or rectangular shapes. Look around and you will see that when we need a strong shape, we have always used round. A few examples are tank cars, grain bins, and rockets.
  • Round is easier to build—using today's high tech materials to build round homes makes them much simpler to build than their rectangular counterparts. Panels can be made in uniform sizes and the angles are the same all the way around. Round houses built of many flat panels can be easily prefabricated, making on-site construction simpler and faster.
  • The circle is energy and material efficient—to enclose a round shape of equal area to a square or rectangle uses 10% to 15% less material. This means less material cost, less to build, less to maintain, and less wall area to lose heat through. The round structure is more efficient to build and more efficient over its life.
  • Open floor plans—a properly designed round home allows for better natural light and air flow throughout the building, which can lead to an increase in health and comfort just by using the right shape.
  • Convenience—round homes, if designed properly, can be more convenient, with better access between rooms and to the outside from any room in the house. In most cases, space-wasting hallways are not needed at all.


The round shape goes back to our roots and moves us into the future, while always working with the forces of nature and the laws of the universe. Round is the shape of things to come!



We all know that it is the love of family and friends that makes a house a home. It takes just a little more to make a home comfortable and convenient. We are starting to learn (or relearn) that the spaces we live and work in have a profound effect on our health and state of mind.

A house, after providing basic shelter, is useful only if it works well. It can't be too hot, too cold, too cramped, or have vital components that break down. A house must be pleasing to the eye, and it must feel “just right”.

Some of the factors to consider to make a house “feel right” are:

  • Air – fresh, clean, natural air flow; cross ventilation throughout the house; high ceilings (vented if practical) to take excess heat out and draw fresh air in.
  • Light – natural light though the day, minimizes the need for artificial light during daylight hours with proper window and skylight placement and use. Use appropriate task lighting after dark for where you are and what you are doing.
  • Sound – exterior sounds should not intrude into your living space. The shape and layout of your home, as well as trees and vegetation around it, can help control sound. Interior sounds vary, with some being welcome through the house and others needing to be contained to a very local spot. Sound can be regulated easily, dependent upon the shape and layout of the home.
  • Temperature – a house should be warm when it needs to be warm, and cool when it needs to be cool. Warm means no cold corners, warm floors, and as little blowing air as possible. Radiant heat sources can warm a house evenly, quietly, and cleanly. Cool means moving air into and through the house to carry away excess heat. Cross ventilation and ceiling fans can provide easy and inexpensive cooling. Air conditioning may be needed only in a sleeping room, if at all.
  • Size – the size of home that feels right will, of course, vary with individual needs and family size. A “tiny house” feels cozy for a while, but for most is quickly outgrown. A very large house also feels good until the mortgage payment comes due, or it's time to clean and do maintenance. Building only what you need and keep the layout as open as possible so that the interior feels big. Store seasonal or seldom-used items outside of the living space. Those things do not need the same air, light, and temperature that a person needs. Build your home the appropriate size for you to live in.
  • Layout – a well planned house layout makes your life much simpler. Keep to a clean, open, single level home for the most convenience. A good kitchen will mean fewer steps during meal preparation. Keep the kitchen open to dining and living areas. This helps to foster family conversation, without having everyone physically in the kitchen. Make your laundry space close to your bedrooms – no bedrooms on the second floor and laundry in the basement! Some people prefer large open spaces and some small cozy spaces. A good layout can provide for both. Use light and furniture placement to create a cozy “corner” in a larger space, or use natural light and air to create space in a smaller footprint.

There are many options and opinions of what will make a home comfortable and convenient. Think through your daily routines and chores, and find what it takes for your home to feel “just right”.